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Decoding Shade Cloth Effectiveness - For Yard & Garden

shade cloth for garden and patio

HongKate |

With vegetables, fruits, and flowers all over the yard, deck, and garden, gardening has become an important part of outdoor living. Everyone is a happy grower. And shade cloth is one of the important tools to help the planting activity. Are you considering using shade cloth for your garden, vegetable patch, or yard?
This article aims to provide objective facts and information to assist those with specific needs for shade cloth in making effective and beneficial decisions.

What is Shade Cloth?

Many people know that shade cloth protects plant growth but are not sure why. This does not help in selecting and utilizing shade cloth. Only after understanding the definition of shade cloth and how it works will you know how to choose and utilize the right shade cloth to cover your plant.

Shade cloth is defined as a lightweight mesh fabric made of polyethylene. The purpose is to block and absorb some of the UV rays and prevent excessive heat from affecting plant growth. It also scatters light through reflection and transmission. Diffused light penetrates deeper and more evenly into the surface of the plant's foliage, allowing the plant to grow better, just like row cover.

Similar to shade sails, shade cloth is made using high-density polyethylene fabric treated with UV-resistant processes, employing professional knitting techniques. The difference lies in the tightness of the knit. The tighter the knit, the smaller the gaps, the lower the light transmission, and the higher the shade factor (indicating the extent of blocking visible and invisible light, i.e., UV radiation).

The Role of Shade Cloth

We know that shade cloth protects and promotes the growth of a plant by giving it the most suitable growing environment, which is achieved in several ways.

Breathability: Keeps the soil moist and cool, and maintains air circulation. It will not swelter and heat up and evaporate water like Polyethylene film.

Temperature reduction: Reduces the ambient temperature of the plant by reducing the UV rays in the sunlight, reducing the plant's need for water. Prevents disruption of plant growth rhythm.

Light Diffusion: By intervening in the light and adjusting PAR (Photosynthetically Active Radiation, PAR is light of wavelengths 400-700 nm and is the portion of the light spectrum utilized by plants for photosynthesis), reduces excess radiation and diffuses soft light to all parts of the plant to promote growth.

Easy installation and wide coverage: Lightweight, wide coverage, can be used to cover plants by clips, ties, ropes, and other means.

In addition to this, the shade cloth also features a wide range of applications and tough material. It can match outdoor buildings such as pergolas, gazebos, fences, etc. It can also be used in greenhouses, gardens, and courtyards to cover various types of plants. 

What Shade Cloth Grade Do You Need?

The United States is the country with the richest climate and the largest temperature differences among geographical regions . So we quantify the amount of shade shade cloth provides by percentage to help plants grow in different climates.

Blockage rate

Applicable regions


Things to note


North Central United States

Most light-loving plants; tomatoes, lettuce, peppers, and most vegetables

Daily cover for shade-loving plants and summer cover for light-loving plants.


Coastal and most southern areas

Use caution in non-tropical areas and hot summers; affects plant growth


A small number of deserts and tropical areas in the south (subject to the degree of plant photosensitivity)

Light Sensitive Plants

shade-loving plants such as orchids, greens, ivy, etc

Shade cloth is primarily used to shield plants from intense sunlight during the summer. Two common examples:

Peppers: Ideal growing temperatures are 77 to 86°F during the day and 47 to 59°F at night. In cold winter climates, it is necessary to protect plants from freezing temperatures.

Tomatoes: Generally prefer temperatures between 59 and 90°F for growth. However, growth is affected when temperatures fall below 50°F or exceed 95°F.

A 40% black shade cloth is the most suitable for vegetable gardens and yard vegetables that require summer shading. This allows peppers and tomatoes to grow in a conducive environment during summer while also absorbing sunlight to maintain warmth in winter. If desired, light-colored shade cloth can be used for summer and dark-colored shade cloth for winter.

It is important to consider your needs and choose the most appropriate shade cloth. Of course, you can also cover your patio pergola with 90% shade cloth to protect yourself, your family, pets and furniture.

Is Shade Cloth Safe?

HDPE is considered a food-safe and environmentally friendly material, with polyethylene being one of the most widely used materials globally.

Is Shade Cloth Durable? How Long Can It Be Used?

HDPE boasts an excellent strength-to-weight ratio and good chemical resistance. The knitting process further optimizes its structure, making it highly durable. While gardens, vegetable patches, and farms can cause wear and tear, we guarantee a 5-year warranty.

Are There Alternatives to Shade Cloth?

Yes, shade cloth can be DIYed using old curtains, mosquito nets, etc. They can also reduce direct sunlight, but this is only a temporary measure. Improper coverage may affect the plant's growth rhythm.

Can Shade Cloth Be Used in Extreme Weather?

Certainly, shade cloth is resilient. To prevent extreme weather damage to plants, it is recommended to securely cover plants with shade cloth equipped with lock rings and woven straps.

What Color of Shade Cloth Should Be Used?

For heat-loving plants like tomatoes and peppers, use black shade cloth. It absorbs light to block UV radiation while maintaining the environmental temperature. For plants with lower heat and light requirements, light-colored shade cloth can be used.

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